Release type: Transcript

Date:

Interview — 4BC Brisbane with Neil Breen

Ministers:

The Hon Stuart Robert MP
Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business

Topics: Federal Government COVID-19 supports, Why Labor are wrong on JobKeeper, Support for the Gold Coast

E&OE-------------------------------------

NEIL BREEN:

I am joined by Stuart Robert, Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business on the line. 

Stuart, yesterday the Federal Government spent $750 million a week, said they would to prop up the New South Wales economy. It's not jobkeeper, but people who have lost 20 hours of work will get up to $750 a week there's a lot of money for businesses as well.

On behalf of all Queensland to Stuart Robert, I want to know from you: if an outbreak happened here in Queensland would we get the same amount of support as New South Wales?

MINISTER ROBERT:

Unequivocally yes, Neil. What we're putting in place in supports is designed to set the tone for all Australians if they find themselves being declared a COVID hotspot so Queensland can expect exactly the same level of support, at the same speed as what you're seeing in New South Wales. 

NEIL BREEN:

It's a drama, the situation in New South Wales. August 28 that's a long time away. It'll probably go longer. The big issue for Queensland, Stuart Robert, is tourism. And we have tourism businesses affected by this. Can businesses in Queensland have access to it because of what's happened in Sydney?

MINISTER ROBERT:

At present it is confined to a COVID hotspot. So the Commonwealth will step in, like we've done in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales where a hotspot is declared. Until such time as that has occurred, it is up to the states and territories to deal with the issues that they're facing. But as much as tourism Neil, New South Wales is a third of the national economy. So much of our supply of raw materials of aluminium, steel and glass come through there, so the sooner we get New South Wales on their feet, the better. 

NEIL BREEN:

When do you think we will get back on our feet, Stuart Robert? Well you're a federal minister where, you know, I just keep looking for the finish line and I watch our Chief Health Officer every day, stand up and give me solutions, every day for what happened yesterday. That's what we get from all of them, all of them we get solutions to what happened yesterday. We can't find solutions for what happened tomorrow, and there has to be a tomorrow.

MINISTER ROBERT:

There is going to be a tomorrow. Yesterday over 196,000 Australians were vaccinated, so tomorrow looks like a vaccinated population. The Prime Minister has made it clear there are four stages. We expect by the end of the year every Australian that wants to have access to a vaccine will, and that is our road out, and that's why putting forward your best arm is the best thing that everyone can do right now. As soon as that national vaccination rate is up, then the message to Premiers and to all leaders is we're moving into Stage Two, lockdowns are a thing of the past, we need to move forward as a nation, and get our economy to open up and running and our citizens free.

NEIL BREEN:

I had that caller just before about Jobkeeper and Anthony Albanese, who was saying he doesn't understand why Jobkeeper should come back. Earlier in the show I gave an editorial about it and I said: ‘Well I'll explain it to Anthony Albanese’ it's because it cost $89 billion'. That's the reason Jobkeeper can’t come back, is Jobkeeper, dead, dead and buried forever?

MINISTER ROBERT:

Yes it is, because the supports we have put in place are highly targeted, they're designed if you have lost your work or your business has declined, and it wasn’t previously done on a rolling fortnightly basis like it is now. If your business recovers in the next fortnight, well your eligibility is not there, it is highly targeted, and the issues we saw last year when we rapidly move to put the entire economy into sleep. We won't see those at that level here so this is why a more targeted approach is far superior than a blank cheque. 

NEIL BREEN:

Yeah, let’s just talk about businesses here, there's going to be pressure come from the Gold Coast in particular, Tom Tate and those Gold Coast businesses are really affected if we get to a situation where we're looking at the September - October school holidays being ruined. Would the Federal Government consider targeted support for tourism areas by that time?

MINISTER ROBERT:

Well, Neil I'm on the Gold Coast right now, because it’s my city and my home, my kids go to school here. If this drags on, there is going to be serious impacts on our city, and I'll be encouraging the Premier to pick up the phone with the Prime Minister and start looking at what's possible, but until there's a COVID hotspot declared that's where the Commonwealth steps in we're being consistent on that, until that happens, it's up to the state. Look we want to work with states and territory, we're all in this together. But there's a great opportunity for the Premier to jump on the phone and see what's possible. 

NEIL BREEN:

Okay, Stuart Robert, Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business. 24 degrees on the Gold Coast today. Make sure you get some time to yourself to enjoy it.

MINISTER ROBERT:

That would be nice but I fear it won’t happen.

NEIL BREEN:

Yeah, a million to one, good on you, Stuart Robert. 
 

ENDS